Spring is upon us and that means the generations will start think about summer and holiday gatherings. It’s a treat for grandparents to spend time with grandkids on Memorial Day, July 4th, summer vacation and the like, but what about the rest of the year?
Beyond being simply a pleasure, bonding between grandchildren and grandparents is important for child development, say experts in that field.
It can also be healthy for the middle generation to experience their own parents in the no-pressure nurturing role that being a grandparent is all about.
Here are three strong arguments for more grandparent-grandchild togetherness—plus tips for how to get more out of your time together.
1. Parents Are People, Too
As they get closer to puberty, children are intently curious about their own parents as people. According to leading child-development experts, connecting with their parent’s parents is a vital way to gain the insight kids are looking for.
Among Golf Course Home communities, Hilton Head Plantation on Hilton Head Island, SC, is particularly strong in activity clubs, bringing the generations together to share tips about scrapbooking and similar crafts.
Reynolds Lake Oconee, GA: Start the kids on a lifetime sport.
GCH Grandkids TIP
Grandma and Grandpa can collect duplicate photos of Mom or Dad when they were young and work with their young grandchildren to create a photo collage—or even a CD with musical soundtrack—that they can bring home.
2. Different Styles Work
The contrast in care-giving style between Junior’s parents and his grandparents can actually support what parents are trying to do. A report by the early-education provider Bright Horizons talked about the sometimes prickly issue of spending money.
Grandparents often spend money more freely on the grandkids than parents can. And they are famous for indulging them with late bedtimes, an extra cookie and no scolding when they leave clothes or towels on the floor.
These situations can be a cue for a parent to explain that things weren’t this way when Grandma and Grandpa were parents.
Dataw Island, SC: Sailing adventures can spice up family history.
GCH Grandkids TIP
Have a friendly conversation among the three generations explaining how important it is for parents to teach kids self-discipline and self-regulation—but that grandparents aren’t in that role.
They’ve already done their discipline training and can operate a little differently now. (They’ve got other lessons and insights to pass along.)
3. A Vital Resource for Grandkids
Oldfield, SC: Fishing & crabbing for kids & an old country store.
At any point in human history, grandparents have been a vital resource for the generations that come after. Today, however, grandparents offer a particular advantage. They grew up during a period that was analog, not digital, and thus slower-paced and with a stronger feeling of community.
Yes, there’s mythology in the white picket fences and borrowed cups of sugar we associate with mid-20th century America, but there’s no denying the simpler, more integrated, less fragmented nature of the life today’s grandparent experienced back then.
When someone born in 2005 spends time with a grandparent born in 1950, they get the chance to personally connect to a “pre-digital” family member whose experience can offer an eye-opening perspective.
At a Golf Course Home community, such Harbour Ridge Yacht & CC, FL which has a number of non-digital opportunities, grandkid-friendly features such as a Puppy Park and Pickleball courts provide plenty of opportunities for the generations to get together. It also has the advantage of being next to Stuart, which has a walkable historic town center that truly takes you back to a quieter time.
GCH Grandkids TIP
Rent a movie like “Old Yeller” and notice the 1950s-era elements such as land-line phones, laundry on clotheslines and milk delivery by truck. Explain to grandkids how the world worked back then and answer their questions.